Microsoft is testing Picco, a half-inch desktop second screen device

Microsoft Research has presented a paper on a miniature desktop screen called Picco, intended for drawings and simple animations to introduce more fun and playfulness in the workplace.

The graphics shown on the 0.5-inch display are created on a dedicated tablet app, which will allows users to make a sketch or short animation, what Microsoft is calling a “Picclet.” These graphics can then be sent to a Picco device owned by someone on the user’s buddy list.

Picco, next to a coffee mug

Picco, next to a coffee mug

Microsoft Research explains that it designed Picco “to support playful messaging in the work place through a glanceable desktop device that would place minimal demands on users.”

Measuring in at 4.5cm tall, Picco packs a 52 x 36 pixel resolution OLED display. It was built to test whether light-hearted technology can fit in the workplace, since “technologies that explicitly support playfulness are often discouraged at work, and workers are unlikely to make visible the fact that they are using communication technologies for purposes other than those that are strictly work-related and functional.”

Facebook At Work

Facebook at work

The paper went on to explain that Microsoft has tested Picco in two groups of interns and a family. The result of the test found that subjects felt more intimate in their workplace with the appearance of Picclets. It also gave testers a way to personalise their workspaces and a way to feel more cohesive as a group. However, along the way, the research team also discovered that “the level of skill needed to produce these messages became a barrier to entry for some co-workers,” and the public nature of the device discouraged functional communication.

It’s interesting to see Microsoft developing Picco as I’m sure it would be a hit in the office (for a good week at least!) if it does get a general release. However, in this case I’d say the Picco developers should go back to the drawing board and make something just as cute but more useful.

Kai-Li Yang

Kai-Li is a tech enthusiast with an in-depth knowledge of mobile technology, music technology and the entertainment industry. She hails from Taiwan and helps Tech Assimilate to erm... assimilate, all the latest tech news and trends from East Asia. Kai-Li Yang on Google+

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